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City of Oakland v. BP PLC

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20105
Nos. 3:17-cv-06012-WHA, (N.D. Cal., 06/25/2018) (Alsup, J.)

A district court granted oil companies' motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco alleging that the companies make and sell products that create a public nuisance—global-warming-induced sea-level rise—when combusted. The cities further alleged that the oil companies knew the global dangers for decades and hid the information while protecting their assets. But the court found that evaluating blame for the impacts of global warming is a political issue, and therefore not one for the courts to decide. The court ruled the cities' claim that the sale of fossil fuels leads to their eventual combustion, which leads to more carbon dioxide, which in turn leads to more global warming and consequent rise in sea level, is a political problem that should be solved on a more vast scale than a district judge can provide in a public nuisance case. The court, therefore, dismissed the case.